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In the beginning, there was nothing:

And then there was Meru.

At the foot of the great Mountain stood the Jade Palace -- a fantastical, wondrous structure unlike any other the world has ever known. And within dwelt the Incarna, thirteen in number, the greatest of all the Gods, made by the Primordials to stand in lordship over all matters within the world. But their lordship diminished not the truth: they, and all their kin, stood slaves at the feet of their masters.

It was an eternity later when two of the Primordials came to the Gods under cover of darkness, bearing a secret: the manner in which to raise up the humans into incredible champions. And when the Gods rose up in rebellion against their progenitors, it was to the Incarna they looked to raise up those champions.

The method had been given to them, but the details were theirs to choose. Looking out upon the sacred geometry of the world, the Incarna chose an auspicious number: fivefold would be their orders. To each, the lords of the Gods would choose of their own accord those who best suited their own purposes and Exalt them generals and lords, lifting them to the greatest power; and in their wake, those around them would rise up to form their retainers. Bound by the bodies of the heavens, those lords were the Celestial Exalted; and bound to those things that sat below the heavens, those retainers were the Terrestrial Exalted.

So in the manner of things, there were five families of Exalted: so chosen for five central principles of Existence.

The Elemental Exalted were chosen to stand as the champions of the physical world: the unliving, the material. Each swore their allegiance to one of the , the five orbs that circled the horizon of Creation; and in so doing they drew upon the elements of the world itself, to make up their bodies and to leap to action at their will. None could bend every aspect of the physical world to their instantaneous whims like they, nor could any produce the wonders that flowed from their fingers. The elementals were theirs to command, and at their will the work of Creation's functioning rolled on.

Standing to their side were the Dragon-Touched, those who bore the mark of the five dragons who stood at Creation's corners, and who embodied the elements just as their masters controlled them.

The Lunar Exalted stood to represent the living world. Tied to the the ever-changing phases of the fickle moon, the Lunars lived amongst and took up the forms of all that lived and walked amongst the world. Beyond all others, they walked amongst the unknown lands of Creation, or the demesnes of the Primordials' chosen, and took upon themselves the forms of all they met. The avatars of all animal life answered to their beck and call, and it was they who ensured that all ate and starved, fought or fled, lived or died as nature demanded.

With them ran the Beast-Borne, who drew upon the melding of power between the human and beast worlds, for whom the power of the world's creatures might rise up.

The Plutonian Exalted represented amongst them the spiritual plane of existence. Plucked from amongst the souls of the departed, they stood at the border between material and spiritual; they tended to the non-physical realms and guided the dead towards their rebirth, drawing upon the uniqueness of their dual existence. In Netheos they made their home, where the reflections of life stand to remind all for another eternity; the spirits of those departed answered to their call.

The Shadow-Kissed stepped within their footsteps -- born to those who in life were already touched by death, glimpsing the veil from the other side.

The Sidereal Exalted stood to represent the forces in the world, none grander than the inevitable progress of destiny. Chosen at the moment of birth, the Sidereals ensured that all things within Creation and beyond stood in the proper balance; that all forces counteracted one another; that all true destinies were achieved. The Sidereals drew upon the might of the gods themselves and unleashed the power of heaven when called upon to do so.

Always at their side were the Star-Crossed, those who were brought to power by freak destiny; those who found themselves empowered to pursue a path far beyond the one that led them from their homes.

But The Solars were the grandest amongst them; for they represented humanity, and the raw lust for life that burned within their veins made all others pale to compare. It was only the Solars who sought to master most powerfully every art or science; who could reshape the world with the most powerful of sorceries; who could dare to call down the very souls of the Primordials themselves.

And the Golden Ones stood beside them: like perfect dolls in a porcelain army, no others could match the eerie perfection of the Sun's secondary children.